SEO Company Spammer – Outing or not

by Peter Young on October 30, 2008 · 0 comments

There seems to be a huge debate going on, on a number of forums regarding Rand Fishkins recent post on the search engines apparent dealing (or non-dealings) with web spam. This is going on at:

  • Sphinn – 106 comments (and 129 sphinns) – http://sphinn.com/story/81937
  • SEOBook (SEO Police) – 47 comments – http://www.seobook.com/seo-police
  • BlogStorm -Outing Spammers in the “SEO Company” Search Results
  • and of course Rand’s original post -SEO Company Search Results – An Embarrassment to Google and the Other Engines- 146 commments
SEO Company - SEOMoz

SEO Company - SEOMoz example

Much of the debate seems focussed on Rand’s alleged outing of Los Angeles based NationalPositions.com. In his post, Rand posted the following lines

Let me cut straight to the point. I don’t have any problem with what NationalPositions.com is doing. They found a way to rank well, leveraged it and are now getting dozens, maybe hundreds of daily inquiries for SEO help from companies who want to emulate their success in their own markets. Where I struggle is with the engines claiming that SEO in this fashion doesn’t work and shouldn’t be effective, then rewarding this kind of behavior with clients who are now going to get and apply these exact same tactics. A relevant analogy might find the court system giving out win after win to attorneys pursuing frivolous lawsuits – propping up their background with winning records, thus ensuring that more needless cases enter the system.

I know web spam is hard. We actually tried to build a spam metric into Linkscape at launch and found it to be a real Mt. Everest sized problem. But after 10+ years in the game, to find Google, the leader in this arena, giving sitelinks on results like these just doesn’t sit well with me, and it shouldn’t sit well with anyone else who employs best practices in white hat SEO.

p.s. If you’re planning to report web spam of your own in the search engines (and technically, the behavior we’re observing above isn’t spam – it’s just directory link building), Google likes to receive it from your Webmaster Tools account, Yahoo! appreciates it at their Site Explorer Suggestions Center and Microsoft/Live has a spiffy forum. Many in the SEO sphere have found that, perplexingly, spam gets dealt with fastest when it’s blogged about – making sites like YOUmoz and Sphinn havens for this activity.

I would have to say, I agree with one of Rands staff on the blog post himself, that highlights the fact he isn’t actually ‘outing’ NationalPositions but rather highlighting that Google arent doing there job as well as they could be.

However in many peoples opinion – and I personally have to admit i can see where they are coming from it is two parts from the post above that get stuck in the throat, namely

“Let me cut straight to the point. I don’t have any problem with what NationalPositions.com is doing” – followed almost immediately by “Where I struggle is with the engines claiming that SEO in this fashion doesn’t work and shouldn’t be effective, then rewarding this kind of behavior with clients who are now going to get and apply these exact same tactics” and references to WebSpam.

Whether or not NationalPositions deserve to be number one – the answer is probably no. Its not the most inventive way of getting to the top, but its effective. Is it spam – in my opinion – not not really. Personally, the submission of sites to directories is something often practised by a number of prominent SEO practitioners, and surely such activity is not as bad as the use of High Scale Link Networks for the development of link acquisition

I would finish however – with the amount of exposure that Rand (and SEOMoz) have got out of this -and the furore that followed the LinkScape debate, Rand will have done himself no harm in terms of inbound linkage – however I can’t help thinking at the expense of a number of previous allies.

[The thoughts in the post above are Peter Young's personal viewpoints are not necessarily those of his employers or any other authors on the Holistic Search blog]

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